Content marketing is often considered a complex topic, with most discussions dominated by industry jargon and case studies involving big brands and million-dollar budgets. This has lead many businesses to think the marketing discipline is almost solely the domain of big business. Well it’s not, and strong content marketing can open up great opportunities for small and medium businesses all over Australia.

So… What is content marketing? (Minus the jargon)

Let’s throw away complex terms and long-winded explanations. Content marketing is simple. It’s just marketing, informed by the knowledge that customers respond positively to story. Content marketing is all about creating a story that customers interact with. This means using content, whether it’s the form of blogs, videos or social media, to engage with your target audience.

Seems pretty easy, right? Well, yes and no. Successful content marketing is built on engaging a customer, so you need to know who your customer is and how to talk to them; this can be a difficult task.

Content marketing trends you need to know

To help you get started on your content marketing journey, I’ve put together a run-down of what trends you need to know in 2018. Apply this knowledge to your business’s content marketing efforts this year and see the change it makes to your bottom line.

Quality over quantity

Content marketing efforts are shifting thanks to a growing trend in the way customers consume content. Short articles are on the way out and long form content is all the rage.

Worldwide brands are publishing less content per month, but it’s content that is far more valuable. Think long form pieces that investigate market trends or jump deep into the benefits of a service, or even compare different products and their uses; these are the types of content that are helping brands generate an audience and monetise their content efforts.

Long form content comes with a huge range of benefits to your digital marketing, see why I love long form content here.

Originality wins out

Some people say there’s nothing new on the internet, and there is certainly a huge amount of content floating around on the web. But this doesn’t mean your content efforts can’t be original. Find what makes your business different and bring that perspective to an issue. What you’re saying may have been said before, but consumers will engage with how you’re saying something. So, get creative, think outside of the box and make your content new!

Want help creating your own brand voice? Read this instructional brand voice blog, it can help you generate an engaging and unique voice for your business. 

More forms of content to reach more people

With changes in technology come changes in media consumption. From the printed word, we moved to online blogs and from online blogs, we’ve moved to video and audio. Every type of content has its own purpose, and, to work out what best suits your business, you’ll need to consider what you want the content to achieve and what your customer base is. From there, you can find a type of content that can get you the best results.

Common forms of content marketing include:

  • Blogs
  • Vlogs (video blogs)
  • Podcasts
  • Ephemeral video content (limited time videos – think snapchat stories)
  • Webinars
  • Infographics
  • eBooks
  • Whitepapers
  • Emails

Dive deep into topics

Not every piece of content you produce needs to be an in-depth discussion of a topic, but you need to consider what value your content offers a consumer. A short blog may be consumable, but what is the reader getting out of it? The content that gets shared across social media, by and large, is deeply informative and valuable content that says something new. Put your own IP out into the world and start building your brand as a thought leader. This is how you create a loyal audience.

Content can’t do it alone

If a tree falls in the woods and no one’s there to hear it, does it make a sound? And, if you write a great blog and no one reads it, what was the point of all that effort?

This is possibly the most common error first time content marketers make. They put all this effort into creating great content without a firm plan for generating eyes on the article. To ensure your content gets seen, work out exactly who you want to read it, work out where they exist online and then use paid social media or AdWords marketing to push your content in front of them.

Top content amplification methods

Not every form of amplification is suitable to every business. The success of a content marketing campaign comes down to using the right form of amplification on the right content aimed at the right audience.

Email marketing

The swiss army knife of content amplification. Email marketing can be used in multiple stages of the sales funnel. Whether you’re trying to turn a lead into a conversion, aid retention numbers, nurture current clients, or generate more ecommerce sales, email marketing can help (and obviously you’re going to need an email list for this amplification method – no idea how to create an email list? Read this blog). 

Organic social media

It’s sad to say that organic social media as a content amplification tool is slowly dying. This is due to social media platforms, like Facebook, pushing businesses to pay to get their content out there. These days you can expect as little as 7% of your followers to see an organic post. By no means am I suggesting giving up on organic posting, just make sure you have an accompanying paid strategy to get the best results from your content.

Paid social media

The holy grail of content amplification. With a huge range of targeting options, you can pin point your audience and deliver highly relevant content at any time.

And yes, this method can be expensive, so make sure you know what you’re doing before putting a large budget into social advertising. The business graveyard is littered with small businesses who invested too heavily in social without the proper targeting knowledge, so if you’re not a social media professional, tread with care.

AdWords and display network marketing

While not traditionally used for content amplification, the AdWords network can indeed push valuable traffic to your content. Like social media, there is a huge range of targeting options available through AdWords advertising. But unlike social media, consumers don’t generally expect to land on a piece of content, generally they’d expect to land on a services page – this can lead to low engagement from this traffic. That being said it can be very cheap traffic.

Third party amplification tools

Content amplification is big business, and a range of tools and programs have arisen to offer businesses an opportunity to pay for traffic to their content. Programs like Outbrain, Taboola and Gravity are all examples of these third-party tools. But, before you get excited and start paying for traffic to your content, you need to thoroughly investigate these tools. The results businesses receive with these tools are very hit and miss, so be wary before committing a big budget.

Get started with your content marketing

If you’re looking to grow your business in 2018, then content marketing is a smart option. Put the time in to work out how to connect with your customers and you’ll definitely see the benefits.